Dr. Hosack's Enchanted Garden: Botany, Medicine, and Discovery in Old New York

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By Tom Meyers and Bowery Boys Media. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Dr. David Hosack was no ordinary doctor in early 19th-century New York. His patients included some of the city’s most notable citizens, including Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, both of whom he counted as close friends -- and both of whom agreed to bring him along to their fateful duel.

But it was Dr. Hosack’s love and appreciation for the field of botany that would eventually make him famous in his time. In 1801 he opened his Elgin Botanic Garden on 20 acres of land located three miles north of the city on Manhattan Island.

In this first public botanical garden in the country, Hosack would spend a decade planting one of the most extraordinary collections of medicinal plants, along with native and exotic plants that could further the young nation’s agriculture and manufacturing industries.

And yet, he also spent a decade looking for funding for this important project, and for validation that this kind of work was even important.

In this episode we discuss Hosack’s life and surprising legacy with Victoria Johnson, author of the 2018 book, “American Eden, David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic,” a New York Times Notable Book of 2018, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Nonfiction, and a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.

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